She was said to be the most photographed tiger in India, if not the world, and some say she liked to pose for the cameras. Known as Machli, she was the reserve's star attraction and a star of books and documentaries.
She was known as "The Queen Mother of Tigers," "The Queen of Ranthambore" and the "Lady of the Lake." She also had her own Wikipedia entry, her own Facebook page, was famous for having killed a 14-foot crocodile and was said to be the most photographed tiger in the world - but on Thursday the long-lived cat, her age in dispute, died in an Indian national park.
In addition to the many monikers she earned in her life, she was generally called Machli, which in Hindi means "fish," because of the shaped markings on her face. She was the longest-surviving tigress in India's Ranthambore National Park and was the reserve's star attraction.
She was the star of several books and documentaries but was most famous for her fight to the death with a giant crocodile that was caught on film.
Her fans took to social media to pay their respects.
"Sad to know of Ranthambore's iconic tigress Machhali's passing away," Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia posted on Twitter.
She was slowing down in recent years and had lost many of her teeth.
Lying near death
Earlier this week she was found near the park's boundary in Rajasthan state. Park vets and staff gave her constant care, but she had stopped eating several days ago, according to Ranthambore's tiger project director Yogesh Kumar Sahu.
"Machli was very old and she was ailing for some time," Sahu said. "For the past four days she was lying at a single spot in the forest barely conscious.
"We were trying to provide her treatment but she died," Sahu said. "It was a natural death linked to her age."
Royal Bengal tigers tend to live 10 to 15 years in the wild, or 16 to 20 years in captivity. Machli was old but her precise age was in dispute. Some reports said she was 19, others listed her as 20, and still others claimed she was older.
But whatever her age, Machli was said to be the park's most photographed tigress - some said she liked to pose for the cameras.
She was also the matriarch of Ranthambore - one of the largest parks in northern India. She gave birth to 11 cubs over the years, which accounts for nearly half of the park's tiger population.
Her death comes as a massive search continues for another much-loved tiger that disappeared in April from a wildlife sanctuary in the western state of Maharashtra.
Some 2,226 tigers roam India's reserves, accounting for more than half of the world's tiger population, according to the last count in 2014.
bik/sms (AFP, dpa)